The European Patent Office recently published statistics about patent applications filed under the European Patent Convention during 2020. Details can be seen here:
Not surprisingly, the top four countries for numbers of European patent applications filed are the USA, Germany, Japan and China. The UK comes in at No. 9, after France, Korea, Switzerland and the Netherlands. But another table, which looks at the number of applications per million of population, shows an interesting different perspective, revealing centres of innovation.
The EPO also recently published an analysis of IPR and firm performance in the European Union (https://www.epo.org/news-events/news/2021/20210208.html) which concluded that SMEs that are patent owners performed significantly better than non-IPR-owning companies.
In this list, the top four countries are Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, with the UK coming in at No. 18, after Norway, Singapore and Puerto Rico.
In our experience, UK companies are no less inventive than those in other countries, but are perhaps more cautious about patenting, often citing the cost of court battles as a deciding factor.
In practice, very few patents ever go to court; the mere existence of a patent is often sufficient to deter potential infringers. But patents (and other IP Rights) can be used as a basis for licence deals and are often considered as valuable assets when companies are bought and sold, or when external investment is sought. As business tools, patents can be very cost-effective, as the research mentioned above seems to confirm.
Contact us on 01522 801111 for advice on how your company could benefit from maximising its IP protection.